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Thread: Lebron's perfect free agency partner

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    Default Lebron's perfect free agency partner

    For the Knick fans, this is interesting because David Lee is listed as the third best partner to Lebron James behind Chris Bosh and Dirk Nowitzki. Let's say John Hollinger is right about finding the best companion to Lebron, is it worth not resigning Lee for less than Bosh or Dirk?

    Finding the perfect mate

    Which superstar shines brightest next to King James? "LeBron Rating" reveals all.


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    <script type="text/javascript"> jQuery.getScriptCache('http://a.espncdn.com/combiner/c/?js=espn.tools.r2.js', function() { espn.core.init.tools(5194437,'http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/insider/news/story?page=lebron_week_teammate_rankings_hollinger '); }); </script> <cite class="source"> By John Hollinger
    ESPN Insider
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    <!-- end mod-article-title --> <!-- begin story body --> <!-- template inline --><!-- photo wide photo -->
    <cite>David Liam Kyle/Getty Images</cite>Though stars on their own, James and Bosh would make an especially formidable tandem.
    <!-- end wide photo -->The conference finals are under way, but let's be honest: The biggest story in the NBA is LeBron James' upcoming free-agency tour. Nothing less than the future of the league is at stake. OK, that might be a bit extreme, but you can argue that a player of his stature has never been available at such a young age. With that in mind, Insider brings you LeBron Week, a five-part look at every aspect of James' decision. First up, John Hollinger examines the best possible sidekick for LeBron.
    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] hits free agency in six weeks, and we've read a lot of tea leaves about which landing spots would work best for him. But today, it's time to turn the analysis on its head: Which players would benefit most from teaming up with LeBron?
    For the purposes of brevity and sanity, I'm restricting the debate to star players who could plausibly team up with LeBron next year. Sure, [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] would make a great teammate for King James, but I don't see that one as being terribly realistic.
    Instead, let's look at what, statistically, might make a player a good fit with LeBron and then work backward to determine which ones possess the most positive attributes.
    In order, here are the most important criteria:
    <offer></offer>
    1. He will not hog the ball. LeBron ranked second in the NBA last year with a 32.2 [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], which doesn't leave a ton of possessions for another ball-hungry player. The fact is, LeBron's teammates will be playing off the ball most of the time, and anyone doing his own thing is just taking the ball out of LeBron's hands.
    Additionally, James' strength and stamina enable him to play 40 minutes 80 times per season, so there are relatively few opportunities for a ball-needy player to operate while LeBron is on the bench. This is one reason why many question how a LeBron-[Only registered and activated users can see links. ] partnership would work -- Wade led the league in usage rate last year.
    2. He will space the floor. The ideal James teammate will play on the outside, not on the inside, because that creates maximum space for James to complete his freight train drives to the rim. The best complements are players who both take and make a large percentage of their shots from the perimeter. To rate this for our purposes, I used a player's shooting percentage on long 2-pointers this season, courtesy of [Only registered and activated users can see links. ].
    3. He will finish what he starts. A high-usage player is going to have trouble pairing with LeBron, but a high-efficiency player should thrive. We're looking for players with a high true shooting percentage -- a player's shooting percentage adjusted for 3-pointers and free throws -- since those players can take best advantage of the shot opportunities LeBron creates for them.
    4. He will crash the boards. Wherever he goes, James is likely to lead the team in shot attempts ... and in misses. That's why an [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]-type who crashes the boards can be so successful as one of his teammates. While few star players fit this profile, there are a couple who supplement their scoring with offensive boards, and they'd make better complements for James.
    So we have four key metrics we're looking at for in an ideal James teammate -- low usage rate, high TS%, high offensive rebound rate and strong outside shooting numbers. The "low usage" requirement is relative, as every star will be above the league average in that category; similarly, the bar for offensive rebound rate needs to be set low, since most stars are taking the shots, not collecting the misses. Nonetheless, this at least provides some guidelines for our star search.
    Using this data, I created a "LeBron Rating" for each player by taking three-fourths of the player's true shooting percentage, subtracting half his usage rate, adding his offensive rebound rate and subtracting twice his turnover rate.
    From that, we get results that neatly split the top dogs on the league's primary LeBron contenders into five groups:
    Potential LeBron teammates: a comparison

    <table> <thead> <tr> <th>Player</th> <th>Usg</th> <th>TS%</th> <th>TO</th> <th>Off. Reb.</th> <th>Long 2%</th> <th>LeBron Rating</th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr class="last"> <td>[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]</td> <td>25.9</td> <td>59.2</td> <td>9.6</td> <td>9.9</td> <td>46.3</td> <td>71.7</td> </tr> <tr class="last"> <td>[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]</td> <td>26.1</td> <td>57.8</td> <td>7.0</td> <td>3.1</td> <td>47.2</td> <td>69.3</td> </tr> <tr class="last"> <td>[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]</td> <td>22.2</td> <td>58.4</td> <td>10.0</td> <td>8.4</td> <td>43.9</td> <td>68.6</td> </tr> <tr class="last"> <td>[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]</td> <td>24.4</td> <td>61.5</td> <td>11.6</td> <td>9.7</td> <td>41.0</td> <td>66.6</td> </tr> <tr class="last"> <td>[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]</td> <td>23.1</td> <td>59.9</td> <td>12.3</td> <td>8.2</td> <td>45.2</td> <td>65.9</td> </tr> <tr class="last"> <td>[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]</td> <td>25.3</td> <td>53.8</td> <td>7.2</td> <td>3.0</td> <td>42.1</td> <td>61.3</td> </tr> <tr class="last"> <td>[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]</td> <td>21.0</td> <td>53.5</td> <td>9.5</td> <td>4.2</td> <td>40.8</td> <td>58.8</td> </tr> <tr class="last"> <td>[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]</td> <td>26.3</td> <td>53.2</td> <td>9.8</td> <td>2.6</td> <td>44.3</td> <td>56.3</td> </tr> <tr class="last"> <td>[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]</td> <td>33.2</td> <td>56.2</td> <td>9.8</td> <td>4.5</td> <td>35.8</td> <td>51.4</td> </tr> <tr class="last"> <td>[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]</td> <td>25.2</td> <td>51.2</td> <td>10.9</td> <td>1.2</td> <td>39.1</td> <td>47.3</td> </tr> <tr class="last"> <td>[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]</td> <td>24.7</td> <td>50.1</td> <td>10.8</td> <td>2.4</td> <td>36.0</td> <td>45.6</td> </tr> </tbody> </table>

    The perfect companion: [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    Bosh hits every check mark on the list above. He's an outstanding midrange shooter who would provide a fearsome weapon on the pick-and-pop, something James has never really had in Cleveland. His offensive rebound rate (9.9 percent) was in the top third of power forwards, which is amazing considering how often he played outside. His turnover rate was in the bottom third and his TS% (59.2) was outstanding.
    Near-perfect companions: [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    The lesson here: Pairing LeBron with a floor-spacing 4 can be really, really effective. We'll start with Nowitzki, the gold standard in this category. Dallas doesn't have the cap space to pursue LeBron, but that doesn't mean they won't try like the dickens with some combo of [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]'s nonguaranteed deal, talented prospect [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] and any other goodies ($3 million and a future first-rounder, for instance) they can muster.
    If they pulled it off, Dirk and LeBron would make a fearsome pair. Nowitzki doesn't rebound like Bosh does but is an even better outside shooter; and, as with Bosh, Nowitzki has both a low turnover rate and a high TS%.
    Stoudemire isn't as good an outside shooter, but he's solid from midrange and otherwise possesses similar qualities as Bosh -- a stellar TS% (61.5), a strong offensive rebound rate and a fairly low rate of turnovers.
    Lee and Boozer are birds of a feather when it comes to playing with LeBron -- they both can stick a midrange jumper but their primary value comes in slamming home offensive rebounds and making hard dives to the basket after they set screens. Boozer (59.9) and Lee (58.4) both had strong TS% and low turnover rates, and are good offensive rebounders; one worry, however, is that neither can defend a twig.
    Now we're forcing things a bit: [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    On the perimeter, Johnson and Gay would each provide James with a huge tag-team partner on the wing; this might be less than ideal defensively against quicker 2s but would be pretty fearsome on offense. However, both players are more comfortable playing with the ball and neither is a high-percentage sniper; Johnson (53.8) and Gay (53.2) had middling TS% stats and only average offensive rebound rates. While both numbers might increase in a subordinate role, it's not the killer combo that the four power forwards above provide.
    Similarly, Rose's game is hardly a perfect match for James. He wants the ball in his hands (second among point guards in usage rate), and while he's a very good midrange shooter, he doesn't have the catch-and-shoot, long-range game that would help space the floor for LeBron when he's off the ball. While Rose is likely to improve in the coming years, and would form a devastating running mate in transition, the combo isn't ideal.
    Whole less than sum of its parts: [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    Let's get this straight: LeBron with Wade would be awesome together because of their overwhelming talent. But it's naive to think that pairing the two stars wouldn't subtract from the output of each. Wade had the league's highest usage rate this past season, is a limited jump shooter and is relatively turnover prone. Playing off the ball, he'd be far less useful than a Bosh or a Nowitzki.
    Harris has a similar issue -- he's a straight dribble-driver who doesn't have a role to play off the ball. Like Rose and Wade, he's at his best when he can be the one at the top of the key handling the ball and slashing through defenses. As a catch-and-shoot weapon, he's mediocre at best.
    The worst: [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    The [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] want to sell James on the quality of the four players they already have in place, but the best of the bunch (Davis) could hardly be less suited to playing with him. A stubborn ball-dominator who shoots erratically, Davis' TS% (50.1) was among the worst of NBA stars. Spotting up on the weak side from James, he'd be more than happy to hoist 3s and, unfortunately, that's a problem, since he converts so few of them.

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    I've been saying Lee was a good fit with Lebron for a little while now, this just re-affirms my belief.

    Along with that, notice that with the probable exception of Dirk, and maybe Amare, the other three will be free agents as well and we can sign any one of them. Finally something from ESPN that actually gives us hope.

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    Sweet article. Thx for the hookup.

    Lee + TyrusThomas vs. Bosh.

    I take Lee. It wasn't mentioned, but Lee posseses superior passing, and pairing him with a an athletic, floor-running, defensive wizard in a big man like Tyrus would be a lethal combo @ PF.

    There's also the xfactor upside of just how much better Lee can be, especially when back at his actual position...and he is ultra-durable.

    Count in how Lee is perceived to be a superior adapter as being a Perfect Compliment of a player, to a guy like Lebron...

    Get Lee, get Tyrus, get a true C -- plz Deandre Jordan, but Emeka-Collison ok too --...and you get The Bron and we all get the glory.

    Extremely interesting debate and a difficult one to predict from the eyes of James especially.

    I have zero clue what Walsh might do. Bosh is the safer and simpler route, though; I guessn Bron and Walsh will have to powwow.

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    LeBron & Bosh would be the perfect combo.

    I don't get how anyone on ESPN can see that a core of LeBron-Bosh-Gallinari-Chandler is a young and well rounded core that, with a couple of right fitting pieces around them, can be in CHAMPIONSHIP contention next year.

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    Exclamation Mle

    Originally Posted by iSaYughh
    Sweet article. Thx for the hookup.

    Lee + TyrusThomas vs. Bosh.

    I take Lee. It wasn't mentioned, but Lee posseses superior passing, and pairing him with a an athletic, floor-running, defensive wizard in a big man like Tyrus would be a lethal combo @ PF.

    There's also the xfactor upside of just how much better Lee can be, especially when back at his actual position...and he is ultra-durable.

    Count in how Lee is perceived to be a superior adapter as being a Perfect Compliment of a player, to a guy like Lebron...

    Get Lee, get Tyrus, get a true C -- plz Deandre Jordan, but Emeka-Collison ok too --...and you get The Bron and we all get the glory.

    Extremely interesting debate and a difficult one to predict from the eyes of James especially.

    I have zero clue what Walsh might do. Bosh is the safer and simpler route, though; I guessn Bron and Walsh will have to powwow.
    Cant we sign Tyrus with the MLE even if we get bosh nd Bron? Hopefully donnie can do that nd then swing the deal with curry for collison nd okafor. Which would leave us with
    Collison
    Bron
    Gallo
    Bosh
    Okafor
    Bench: Walker, Douglas, Tyrus, Barron, and chandler would prob have to be traded with eddy in the deal.
    This wouuld give us one of the best starting lineups if not the best and allow us to be deep enough to go deep in the playoffs.

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    With the exception of David Thorpe, not many people on ESPN are high on Gallo or Chandler, which is probably why they don't think it would be a good team. I remember someone saying how we have a team full of perfect complement role players that needed a superstar. If LBJ or Wade comes here, this team is set for sure.

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    Bosh hands down is better than Lee, no question. A tandum of Bosh and Bron is formidable.

    And I see Bosh as a perfect compliment since he seems to be able to check his ego and possibly get the dirty work done.

    After KG.... Bosh might be the best PF in the East. And for all you guys screeming for Lee and will quote stats...

    please remember to add the D'Antoni factor to his stats as is the case with Lee. I want Lee for no price once I consider Bosh (max) and Bron (max) together. Killer bee's!

    We all know that "sniper" is going to be Gallo- I know he's limited athletically...

    but he seems to have "the eye of the tiger" and won't back down.
    Last edited by Red; May 17, 2010 at 16:02. Reason: Good looking Paul for the insider access.

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    Arr. Red may be right in his analysis of Bosh n Bron. I still feel like Lee -could- be the superior fit and acquisition (especially if it means we ML sign Tyrus...will Walsh do this???), but it's the pick twinged with sentimentality, which makes me nervous.

    Ask yourself: if we drafted Bosh and Lee was the outsider...for me, it made it more clear: Bosh.

    I've heard conflicting things whether we could get Tyrus too. I think he'd be huge for us, especially when Bosh occasionally sits for injury. I don't believe we can ML sign him tho and bosh.

    Sign the Killer Bees! (flip McFlurry to NO; package Chandler to the Clips for Deandre to develop into a star and play alongside Emeka whose offense is wilting to Ben Wallace levels before the leagues eyes)
    Last edited by iSaYughh; May 17, 2010 at 18:01.

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    Huge Member smokes's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Red
    Bosh hands down is better than Lee, no question. A tandum of Bosh and Bron is formidable.

    And I see Bosh as a perfect compliment since he seems to be able to check his ego and possibly get the dirty work done.

    After KG.... Bosh might be the best PF in the East. And for all you guys screeming for Lee and will quote stats...

    please remember to add the D'Antoni factor to his stats as is the case with Lee. I want Lee for no price once I consider Bosh (max) and Bron (max) together. Killer bee's!

    We all know that "sniper" is going to be Gallo- I know he's limited athletically...

    but he seems to have "the eye of the tiger" and won't back down.
    I'd even say Bosh is better than Garnett to be honest. Younger, better midrange, faster, his only downside to KG is on D. Hell you could even argue for Bosh as best PF in the NBA.

    But the comparison isn't really Bosh vs Lee. It's Bosh vs Lee and another 4 million dollar player. I have to agree that Lee + Tyrus is more attractive than Bosh alone, since we will really need a 9 player rotation to be a successful team. Can't be doing anymore of this 7-8 man rotation.

    Douglas - ?
    Bron - Walker
    Gallo - Chandler
    Lee - Tyrus
    ? - Barron

    vs

    Douglas - ?
    Bron - Walker
    Gallo - Chandler
    Bosh - ?
    ? - Barron

    Tough call but I'd go with the first team. And about the MLE, I'm not a cap expert but I believe the MLE is only available to teams who go into free agency over the cap, not for teams who bring in players until they hit the cap and then use the MLE to go over, I don't think that's possible.

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    Here's a thought tho:

    If we do go Lee + Tyrus...does D'ant truly even utilize him or does he stick with his historically ultra rigid rotation??

    Could this be key in who Walsh most heavily pursues...

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    Huge Member smokes's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by iSaYughh
    Here's a thought tho:

    If we do go Lee + Tyrus...does D'ant truly even utilize him or does he stick with his historically ultra rigid rotation??

    Could this be key in who Walsh most heavily pursues...
    I think if push came to shove D'antoni would go to a deeper rotation, if he had good players available. Problem is it's not like we had much more than 7-8 players worthy of seeing playing time this season anyway.

    The only 2 things I think coach did wrong was not giving Jordan Hill more time on the court (although leaving him as a 6'11 question mark was safer for his trade value than playing him, if he had bombed it would have been bad for us). Also he could have put TD out there earlier in the season, I'm not sure what the reason for that was, but considering how well he played toward the end of the season maybe it was the best thing for his development.

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    Why would we sign Dirk and we have Gallo?

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    good looks on the article Paul! It looks like 'LeBron week' is going to have a bunch of different LeBron insider articles, be on the look out!

    I think Bosh and Bron would be crazy... as much as I love DLee, having Bosh and LeBron would make a a serious force.. i think we'd be Celtics a few yrs ago status, win the first year...

    If Bosh doesn't come, i do think we'd have to look at Dlee.. It may be worth saving on him than a JJ, and being able to get a few quality players with the left over.. bron and lee would be nice.. but bron and bosh would be great to see

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    Originally Posted by smokes
    I'd even say Bosh is better than Garnett to be honest. Younger, better midrange, faster, his only downside to KG is on D. Hell you could even argue for Bosh as best PF in the NBA.

    But the comparison isn't really Bosh vs Lee. It's Bosh vs Lee and another 4 million dollar player. I have to agree that Lee + Tyrus is more attractive than Bosh alone, since we will really need a 9 player rotation to be a successful team. Can't be doing anymore of this 7-8 man rotation.

    Douglas - ?
    Bron - Walker
    Gallo - Chandler
    Lee - Tyrus
    ? - Barron

    vs

    Douglas - ?
    Bron - Walker
    Gallo - Chandler
    Bosh - ?
    ? - Barron

    Tough call but I'd go with the first team. And about the MLE, I'm not a cap expert but I believe the MLE is only available to teams who go into free agency over the cap, not for teams who bring in players until they hit the cap and then use the MLE to go over, I don't think that's possible.
    No it's not possible according to our resident cap guru LJ. I think. Jesus!
    Confusing stuff.

    I can't really see the benefit in having Lee + Thomas. We'd still have no legit center and would be tearing up the minutes between Barron, Lee and TT. Less PT for Lee and Thomas unless one plays the 5. I think we've had enough evidence that playing PFs as Cs is not the brightest move.

    Not when it's Bosh + James vs Lee + Thomas + James. Lee can score from range, but it's purely spot up, facing the basket with some room. Bosh can catch and fade, has a good baby hook and a far superior triple threat. Thomas is raw athleticism, but could definitely benefit from passes from Lebron.

    I still like your 2nd unit better:

    Douglas - ?
    Bron - Walker
    Gallo - Chandler
    Bosh - ?
    ? - Barron

    And it's not like we couldn't add Thomas to a roster of Bosh and James.

    That's if the seas do miraculously part and we had the perfect off-season. But how likely is that anyway?

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    Originally Posted by Crazy8s
    No it's not possible according to our resident cap guru LJ. I think. Jesus!
    Confusing stuff.

    I can't really see the benefit in having Lee + Thomas. We'd still have no legit center and would be tearing up the minutes between Barron, Lee and TT. Less PT for Lee and Thomas unless one plays the 5. I think we've had enough evidence that playing PFs as Cs is not the brightest move.

    Not when it's Bosh + James vs Lee + Thomas + James. Lee can score from range, but it's purely spot up, facing the basket with some room. Bosh can catch and fade, has a good baby hook and a far superior triple threat. Thomas is raw athleticism, but could definitely benefit from passes from Lebron.

    I still like your 2nd unit better:

    Douglas - ?
    Bron - Walker
    Gallo - Chandler
    Bosh - ?
    ? - Barron

    And it's not like we couldn't add Thomas to a roster of Bosh and James.

    That's if the seas do miraculously part and we had the perfect off-season. But how likely is that anyway?
    The ?'s assume players that would be got through a trade with Eddy Curry. For example the constantly repeated:

    Collison/Douglas - ? (maybe Sergio)
    Lebron - Walker
    Gallo - Chandler or Walker if Chandler gets traded
    Lee - Tyrus
    Emeka - Barron

    So having Tyrus to back up the PF spot would be pretty beneficial I think. Defense/athleticism and I haven't watched him much this season but in last years playoffs he seemed to have worked on his midrange a bit, maybe that's improved more a year on?

    Edit- Actually I think it is like we can't add Thomas if we get Bosh and James. Since those 2 max contracts will leave us with only about 2 million cap remaining, I doubt Thomas will sign for less than 4-5 million.

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